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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Addiction and all that jazz


Addiction is a common theme strewn throughout my family line, mainly focused on alcoholism. When I was young I watched my mom struggle with drinking. When I grew up, I witnessed my father, who had always been the one to hold things together (hold my mom together), fall victim to the addiction as well. The effects this has had on me and my family have been vast and truthfully, very painful. Quite honestly, it has made living a balanced life very difficult, but it has also ultimately make me strive for one even more.

This issue has come to the forefront of my life again recently as my dad fell into one of the worse benders I have ever witnessed. Adding complication to an already difficult situation was that his body could no longer handle the abuse he put it through. I have watched him detox himself at home, which is not a pretty scenario, and includes a lot of vomiting, shaking, sweating and moaning. However, this time his condition was so bad that he put himself in the hospital. After a week stay he was released to face his life and all the issues that come with it. I have seen him like this before. Sober and wide eyed, his body less swollen and above all else, making sense. The problem is that addiction is a tricky little beast and has over taken him time and time again. I'm sure it is not difficult to imagine how hard it is to watch someone destroy themselves, especially someone you love. So, my father is at a cross roads, and so am I. He can either make the most of this opportunity to stay clean and enroll in rehab, like he has said he wants to, or he can not. I have managed to keep myself somewhat sane through all of this, but if he fails at his sober life, I don't think I can watch the collapse. I have faith in him though. I always have and probably always will.

You could say that in many ways I am somewhat of a stereotypical child of alcoholics. I have control issues. I want to be perfect. I developed an eating disorder (control issue). But ultimately I am proud of myself that I have not developed this addiction, in fact I stay away from liquor and drugs in general. If you are dealing with someone who has an addiction problem I can offer you some bits of personal advice.

- Don't talk to them when they are under the influence. It will only aggravate you. DO NOT yell at them when they are under the influence. It will get ugly and they probably won't even remember, so it's just a waste of your energy.

- Give them space. You can't fix them. Only they can and they only will when they want to. Being around them all the time will not help either of you.

- Let them hit rock bottom. It is painful to watch, but if an addicted person thinks they are okay, they will not seek treatment. When they realized they cannot fall any lower, then maybe, just maybe, they will.

- Don't let anything surprise you. Addicts will do anything. They will steal, they will lie, they will drive under the influence. It is sad, but true. Stop them if you can, but good luck trying.

- This is not your fault and you alone cannot fix it. This is their problem. Only they can.

- Don't let them drag you down with them. You are better than that. And they will need someone level headed to be on their side at some point, and that could be you if you so choose.

For more information from someone other than a ranting daughter of alcoholics, please visit http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/. Al anon is an organization for friends and families of alcoholics.

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